In the 21st Century, where job hunts have largely migrated into the digital realm, having a high-quality, professional LinkedIn page is hugely important. As well as offering you the chance to build valuable connections and stay abreast of industry trends, it is also a makeshift public résumé that recruiters can access at any time.
Therefore, you need to ensure that it is constantly in good shape. While this can be time-consuming and, to some, even daunting, do you really want to miss out on the chance of being potentially headhunted for your dream job? After all, you wouldn’t send your CV out in a shoddy condition; and even if you’re not actively looking for a new role, you never know who might be browsing.
Luckily, to help you avoid this career disaster, we’ve compiled a list of LinkedIn profile tips for each section of your page. So, whether you’re trying to make connections or step up your job hunt, or you simply want to be prepared just in case, follow these handy steps to effortlessly improve your LinkedIn profile.
1. Get a professional headshot
In an ideal world, your mugshot should have no bearing on your competency or your suitability to do your job. In the world of LinkedIn, however, this isn’t the case. Research by the company itself has identified that a strong profile photo is far more likely to result in engagement.
Ideally, you should opt for a professional shot, as this suggests to recruiters that you take yourself and your career seriously. While filtered selfies or cropped group shots are not necessarily a huge faux pas per se, a well-taken corporate headshot can say a lot more about your personality, your professionalism and the way that you operate.
Remember: while that heavily pixelated group shot crop from Emma’s 21st birthday might look great on your Instagram, recruiters won’t be as enamoured. In much the same way that you would at a job interview, take the time to instead present yourself seriously and professionally.
2. Be visible
Although one of the great benefits of LinkedIn is its user-friendliness, there are still a few tweaks you’re going to need to make to ensure that you’re not only easily found, but that you’re found by the right people, too.
Before you start composing your masterpiece, ensure that you:
Change your URL
When you create a profile, LinkedIn automatically assigns your URL a random string of unique text. To be more easily found (and to make things more aesthetically pleasing), you can – and should – change your URL to your name.
Write a good headline
LinkedIn automatically sets your headline to your current job title and company, which, if you’re happy where you are, is fine. If you’re looking for a new role, though, or you’re trying to change careers, let people know!
When you appear in searches, your headline is the first thing that everybody will see, so ‘Looking for opportunities in the Forex industry’ or ‘Freelance developer (C++, Java & Python)’ will ensure that the right people are finding you.
Set your ‘career interests’ appropriately
Whether you’re actively looking for a new position, possibly open to the right offer or dead set on staying where you are, you should let the platform know. You can set your availability to one of four states, as well as tweak the exact job types, locations and contract types that you’re looking for.
3. Don’t waste your summary space
Many recruitment specialists argue that the summary section of your LinkedIn profile is the most crucial and, while this is open to debate, there’s no arguing that it’s the perfect place to tell the world your story.
Ideally, you should aim to fill around three to five paragraphs (including a section of bullet points, particularly if you work in a numbers-driven field such as sales or budget management), but the key point here is to ensure that you convey what you’re all about.
For some people, this might be reeling off their career achievements; for others, it might be emphasising their willingness to take on new challenges. Despite what many experts claim, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for selling yourself, although there are certainly some guidelines that it might be wise to follow. For instance:
- Try to avoid overusing generic buzzwords such as ‘driven’, ‘effective’ and ‘analytical’. While they’re not bad words to use, they won’t really help you to stand out.
- Make use of words and phrases that regularly appear in the kinds of job adverts you’d like to target.
- Avoid talking about yourself in the third person (indeed, while using the first person is generally frowned upon on CVs and résumés, it’s perfectly fine to do so on LinkedIn).
- If relevant, make good use of numbers. Quantifying your achievements with solid figures is always preferable to self-bluster, so if you’ve got them to hand, then use them.
- Be more personal than you would on your CV or résumé. This doesn’t mean that you should be any less professional; just that you should think of your summary more as a conversation rather than a dry recollection of your experience and skills.
4. Make sure your work experience is relevant
As with any well-tailored CV or résumé, you shouldn’t just list off your previous roles and responsibilities. Instead, you should ensure that everything is relevant to the kind of positions that you’re targeting now.
For example, if you’re trying to land an account management position, emphasise how all the responsibilities you’ve had, and all the skills that you’ve developed to date, can be applied to such a role. If something is not relevant, then it doesn’t need to be included.
You can apply this to earlier, unrelated jobs that otherwise have no impact, too. For instance, if you spent a few years working in retail, then talking about your stocktaking and cashier skills are not really going to be relevant. However, those customer service and interpersonal skills that you developed are definitely transferable, so spin your experiences in a way that makes them relevant.
As with your summary, don’t be afraid to include numbers, either, while if your line of work is something creative, be sure to include links or attachments to portfolios or examples of projects that you worked on.
5. Highlight your skills
The skills section of your LinkedIn page is important not just because it highlights what you’re good at but also because it plays an important part in matching you to the right job opportunities.
This is because when a job vacancy is posted on LinkedIn, the poster is asked to list a set of the key skills required. The more you as a candidate possess, the more likely you are to be suggested to the recruiter as a good fit.
Therefore, a good tip is to scour LinkedIn job postings that you would be interested in and ensure that your skills match what is commonly listed. Don’t go crazy, though; there is a limit on the amount of skills that you can list, and you’ll also want to be getting those skills verified. Which brings us to our next point…
6. Get endorsed
Selling yourself to potential recruiters is one thing, but when it’s someone else doing the talking, it naturally increases your credibility. LinkedIn allows people to either give you recommendations (similar to references) or simply endorse that you are competent in a particular skill.
Although there are a few kind souls who will happily attune to your mastery of your work, most people want something in return, so ask colleagues and contacts that you’ve worked with to leave you an endorsement in return for the same favour.
If possible, try and attract credible recommendations, too. Kind words from a senior manager (or even an executive) at a top company look hugely impressive, although be diplomatic when approaching them. Nothing says ‘I’m planning to leave you’ more than a totally revamped LinkedIn profile, so maybe wait until after you (or they) have moved on for a direct reference.
7. Don’t ignore accomplishments
LinkedIn is a fantastic opportunity to show off accomplishments and information about yourself that you maybe wouldn’t include on a CV, so why not make the most of it? If used correctly, you can use these sections to pad out or tailor your profile, too.
For instance, if you are an academic, you can list coursework, publications and even test scores. If you are a project manager, you can list and highlight specific projects that were successful. If you work in IT, you can present your accredited certifications in their own section. Regardless of your role, if you’ve achieved it, then there’s a space to put it.
Of course, as with your skills, it’s not an excuse to throw in your lifeguard certificate for the sake of it; everything still has to be relevant and, ideally, tailored to your job aspirations. But this section shouldn’t be ignored, either; it allows you to save room in your summary and experience sections to talk about other things and ensure that every part of your profile is optimised.
Be conservative with your languages, too. While polyglots are highly desirable, getting to Level 13 German on Duolingo doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re ready to conduct business auf Deutsch. As a rule, you should generally only list a language if you are comfortable conversing in it or if you have a minimum B1-level certificate.
There are a lot of subtleties and intricacies involved in constructing the pitch-perfect LinkedIn profile, but in reality, as long as you pay heed to the tips discussed in this article – and dedicate the necessary time and care to implement them – it’ll make your job search or networking goals much easier.
Alternatively, if you’d prefer a professional to take a look and spruce everything up, then why not check out the LinkedIn options at our very own in-house CV writing service?
What do you think? What LinkedIn profile tips would you give? Let us know in the comments below!